After just a few short weeks of speculation, Arsenal announced the signing of Willian from rivals Chelsea today, with the club and player agreeing to a three year contract. The wages are yet to be revealed. With the announcement, Willian becomes the first signing of the summer transfer window for the Gunners.
Brazil international @WillianBorges88 has signed a three-year deal to join us ahead of the 2020/21 season— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 14, 2020
The announcement comes only days after the 32 year old Brazilian winger publicly parted ways with Chelsea after seven successful seasons on the other side of London. Joining from the Russian Premier League side FC Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013, Chelsea infamously pipped Tottenham Hotspur at the 11th hour after Willian had a medical with Spurs, a move that proved fruitful for both Chelsea and Willian. During his career at Chelsea, Willian racked up a slew of accolades, winning the Premier League twice, the FA Cup, the EFL Cup, and the Europa League. In the same span, Spurs have won *checks notes* one (1) Audi Cup.
Willian joins David Luiz and the (now retired) Petr Cech in the recent tradition of joining
The North London Retirement Home for Aging Chelsea Players Arsenal at or near the end of their careers. While Willian comes with a lot of miles on him at age 32, he continues to be a dynamic playmaker from the wing. During his Chelsea career, he amassed 37 goals and 33 assists in league play, scoring 9 and assisting 7 in the 2019/2020 season, both career highs.
More importantly, his 12 big chances created are more than any Arsenal player contributed last season as the Gunners struggled with creating scoring chances. His ability to cross from wide will be a tremendous help for a club that has failed to find consistency in the crossing department. With Willian joining Pepe and Kieran Tierney, Arsenal will have a stable of players who can whip dangerous balls into the box. Willian also brings a dynamic presence on the ball, as he has shown throughout his career a willingness to drive into the box and take on defenders on the dribble. Arsenal do not have many creative dribblers outside of Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos, and Bukayo Saka, so Willian’s added creativity will hopefully help the team find more success inside the box (and maybe draw a few more penalties, too).
While the signing seems somewhat redundant to some considering Arsenal’s wealth of wide attacking players and the glaring need for a creative midfielder, what Arsenal are gaining is an experienced Premier League player who is adaptable and plays with a high work rate, which makes Willian ideal for Mikel Arteta’s tactics. Last season at Chelsea, Willian played left wing, right wing, and across the midfield for Frank Lampard. His versatility will be a huge boost for the club as question marks remain in the attack. At the very least, he can help groom some of Arsenal’s younger attackers and provide some veteran leadership in the locker room much in the same way David Luiz has.
Arsenal are not getting an every-match player in Willian, but that’s ok. With the FA Cup, Europa League, EFL Cup, and PL all in contention, the need for rotation will be paramount, and despite the amount of young promising attacking talent in players like Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka, and Gabriel Martinelli, the experience Willian will bring with him will help the Gunners in those big matches where experience matters.
Willian will wear #12 for Arsenal.